In our Selected Exhortations category, we republish interesting stuff such as must-read articles and essays not originally written exclusively for the blawg, and which have come to our attention. Please feel free to email [email protected] if you would like to reproduce your writing, but first follow our Writer’s Guide here. This is the seventh post of a satirical series on how a billionaire secretly funds and forms the next Selangor administration. You can follow the series here.
The backlash to the state contract termination and payment freezing notice was swift and multi-pronged.
Later that Monday, journalists all over were rather shell-shocked to be inundated by calls from politicians – including some of the more reticent ones, who’d usually play the “No comment” card. The key theme was the same as the condemnation gleefully poured vitriol on the Amal administration and predicted its imminent demise.
Everyone was of the view that the Amal administration was moving way too far and too fast, outstaying its welcome in less than a month – in stark contrast to the normal grace period where a new political leadership would usually be given either 100 or 150 days in power first before serious criticisms start pouring in.
Some went as far as to warn that there could be some violent uprisings among the people of Selangor when key systems and processes started falling apart, while also calling for street protests against the new state ruling. Then, within hours, at least 10 different protest marches had also been announced at various locations around Selangor and scheduled from after the Friday prayers – all organised by “non-political” NGOs.
Attempts by journalists to get any Amal assemblywoman or state leadership to respond to these increasingly louder political denouement got the same standard reply: “We stand by our decision.”
As such, the various state department heads and other civil service staff found themselves bombarded with calls to get any hints of how the new state leadership might respond – given that the journalists had been given free licence earlier on Monday morning to harass these public servants.
From this incessant media probing, it soon became clear that a large number of state employees potentially faced the risk of losing their jobs as they had been hired via third party contracts and not through the Public Service Department. While it could not be clearly determined just how many could be affected, this revelation was enough to add more fuel to the political criticisms and judging by the print media coverage on Tuesday; Selangor seemed likely to be placed under emergency laws to prevent supposed widespread riots.
Despite having predicted this giant political storm, Munusamy was shaken by how quickly the prospect of emergency laws had been raised – he had anticipated this dark spectre to surface only after about a fortnight of initially loud protests, which would have somehow tragically turned violent in the third week or so. As such, the following Monday’s state exco meeting had been planned specifically to defuse this storm of protests but the situation was becoming increasingly untenable for any political face-saving manner to save the Amal administration before the weekend.
Further to monitoring the bleak picture the media had painted, Raymond had sent out feelers on the ground and Charlene’s team had been quietly assessing the online debates – with the feedback seeming to be only a little less slanted against Amal. The only problem was that those already vocal previously had been making their views known, the silent majority remained deafeningly quiet and Munusamy wondered if this should be construed as good news or if they were being persuaded that Amal was a really bad idea in retrospect.
Fortunately, there had yet to be any major real world protests even as all eyes and ears were tuned to preparations being made publicly ahead of the first wave of protests on Friday, with more slated for Saturday and Sunday. The police had issued half-hearted warnings to would-be participants to ensure any rally would stay peaceful, but Raymond had received feedback that the police would be out in full force over the state with leave frozen for the next one month. Teargas stocks and water cannons were being quietly moved to strategic spots and the dreaded Federal Reserve Unit teams were also being mobilised.
The other main attack Munusamy had anticipated also came true – suppliers to the KM fastfood outlets had informed by noon Monday that stock deliveries would be delayed. When pressed, none were able to commit as to when deliveries would resume as usual, if at all.
Preparations for this eventuality had begun several months back as Raymond had instituted the purchase of several large chilled warehouses at strategic locations so that there would be enough food supply to the fast food outlets for at least another fortnight. Renovations had also taken place at all outlets to enlarge the freezers, which had ensured the latest deliveries arrived on Sunday night so that there was another week’s buffer.
Still, Munusamy was relieved to have business convention on his side – given that movie releases are always slotted for Thursdays. A charity event to mark the release of his first major blockbuster, re-mastered with additional footage, had been scheduled for Thursday’s global debut. Some behind-the-scene favours had been called in the moment nomination dates were announced, and the United Nation’s World Food Programme (UNWFP) had been roped in as the charity to benefit from Thursday’s proceeds of cinemas around the world.
In Selangor, it had also been previously announced that the fast food outlets would turn into whole-day soup kitchens and UNWFP collection centres for public donations on Thursday. As all the KM outlet suppliers plus countless more had pledged their support earlier to the event, Munusamy could only hope Thursday would be a success as its significance had grown to become far larger than originally planned.
There was no let-up in the media storm, which just worsened into Wednesday night as the UNWFP representatives arrived from Belgium. Since the various service centres for the elected assemblywomen were also located adjacent to or near the fastfood outlets, and they had also been scheduled to join the suppliers’ representatives to serve dinner to the needy, the political significance of the event couldn’t have been any more pronounced.
After welcoming the UNWFP representatives and making sure the delegation had checked into their hotel rooms, Munusamy remained tense and felt unable to return home to get any shuteye. Checks conducted hours earlier hadn’t elicited any confirmations of the various supplier representatives on their attendance and he was finally forced to concede that none would turn up as scheduled. Bitter at the prospect of being checkmated even before real gains could be made with his plan, he spent the next few hours nursing a coffee cup at a nearby diner and took a quick shower back at the office to freshen up, before the 6am meeting with the UNWFP delegation at the hotel coffeehouse.
To Munusamy’s surprise, there were several other people present as well at the breakfast meeting. He couldn’t help but smile broadly when informed that one of the UNWFP representatives was a distant relative of the recently-instated Selangor Sultanah, who had agreed in her personal capacity to grace the official opening of the soup kitchen by the UNWFP delegation at 7am.